2003-08-07 / Religion

J.C.D.

J.C.D.

Dear Friends:

Among priests there is a joke you might or might not have heard. It concerns the initials after certain priests and lay peoples' names: J.C.D. In reality, it means Doctor of Canon Law. Some have said, however, it really means Just Can't Decide. Actually there are many priests, religious and laity that could aptly put JCD after their names. The problem is they just can't decide. They agonize, worry, stew, debate about things and it takes forever to come to some resolution of the situation. Should they move, should they go to this college or that, should they enter the seminary or should they marry. The list is endless and the complications of these peoples lives as a result of their indecision are enormous.

What they want, of course, is an absolute or almost mathematical certainty that they are doing the right thing. If they marry, will it be successful? What if there is a divorce? What happens if there is some factor that they have not taken into account? These people have a unique talent for making their own lives miserable as well as the lives of others who have to live with their chronic indecision. Think of the thirty something girl who is going out with the guy who just can;t bring himself to buy the ring and set a definite date. She is torn between hoping that things will change and wondering whether she should cut her losses and look around for a man who really wants to get married and not merely talk about it. And the truth is that her future happiness is very much tied up with the boyfriend with the JCD problem.

Nobody should be pushed into doing what he or she does not want to do. God gave us the gift of human freedom and we are expected o use that gift in a mature manner. Thoughtfulness and prudence are virtues - but like everything else, they can be overdone. The Just Can't Deciders need to ask God for a more realistic view of life and its imperfect nature. They need the insight to understand that life at its best is imperfect and decisions can have their limitations. we are not God and we cannot see every contingency or eventuality that might occur. It is a tribute to our faith and trust in God that we go forward with courage. The JCDs need to put much more in the hand of God. Those who rely too much on their own judgment are often very disappointed. Sometimes their lives are very empty because of their fears. That is terribly sad.

On July 29th, we celebrated the fourth anniversary of the death of Father Leo Goggin, the founding pastor of St. Matthew. He was a very wise man and taught me a great deal and I tried to learn from him. I often wish I could go up to his room and ask for his advice - and he'd be glad to give it! One thing he told me over and over again is that some people live their lives like a baseball team,: no hits, no runs, no errors. They don't do much! Don;t be like that. Pray, ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the help of the Blessed Mother and then go forward courageously in faith.

Oh yes, say a prayer for Father Goggin this week. He said a lot of prayers for all of us at St. Matthews. And I know he is still watching over the place!

In Jesus and Mary,

Monsignor James M. McDonald

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